A visit to the Bangkok Auto Show is best described in two words – sensory overload.
It is so incredibly over the top.
There are not usually many worldwide reveals, although this year the new Ford Ranger was shown for the first time, but locals make up for it with wild and wonderful cars, laser shows, crazy accessories, excruciating pop music and eye-popping dance routines.
It is not really a place for kids, at least on the opening media day, as the car companies have no problem draping scantily clad women over the cars, and I mean really scantily clad.
One of the best things about the show is that there is something for everyone, cars, motorbikes, boats and accessories are all under the same roof.
The car companies have no problem draping scantily clad women over the cars, and I mean really scantily clad.
This year, there was even some AirStream polished aluminium caravans, perhaps the only cool caravans on the surface of Earth.
Ssangyong also got into the camping spirit by fitting a camper body on the back of an Actyon Sports ute.
Thailand now produces several hundred thousand cars and utes a year for international companies, but there few are local manufacturers of passenger vehicles.
Thairung is one of them and it gained plenty of attention with a truck for Hummer lovers. It’s called the Transformer and looks like a shrunken H2 Hummer, with a little bit of Jeep thrown in the mix.
Thairung builds a military version of this machine for the Thai Army and visitors will see a few parked around Bangkok to remind the public of who is in charge.
These trucks have a unique body, which sits on top of a Toyota Hilux chassis and runs the D4 Hilux diesel.
Another vehicle gaining plenty of attention was a new-age Mini Moke, which is produced in China and sold in selected developing countries.
The manufacturer, Moke International, claims it can do 110km/h but I don’t think that would be wise given its limited crash protection.
Its Thai importer also brings in Sprinter-based motorhomes, which really do look dull at such an exciting show. The solution was a ‘fashion show’, with models strutting down a pretend catwalk in between the vans. A lot of people looked, mostly men, but I’m not sure anyone saw the motorhomes.
Isuzu was in danger of being forgotten this year, with the brand-spanking new Ranger being revealed at the other end of the hall, but the company ensured it would get some time in the spotlight with a pair of remarkable D-Max utes.
One was wore a fantastic green metallic wrap, which seem to glow under the bright lights. Dropped down low and riding on 20-inch wheels, it was one of the most popular cars of the show. Even better, it is actually a production model, although I’m not sure if the paint scheme is part of the package.
Next to it was a super-tough off-road D-Max complete with raised suspension, knobby mud tyres and massive chunky bull bar.
Toyota revealed a special ‘Nurburgring Edition’ Corolla sedan, no kidding, which features a body kit but no mechanical changes. The company didn’t say how fast it could lap the famous circuit. I’m thinking it might take a while.
Next to it was an updated Camry, which was painted brown, a colour that makes white Camrys look good.
The wildest Toyota was actually an Aurion pimped by a speaker manufacturer, which sat just millimetres off the ground with fat wheels that protruded way past the wheel arches.
Chevrolet got in on the act with a matt black go-anywhere Colorado7, while it also built a custom Cruze and a hot version of the car that sells as a Barina in Australia. It was lowered and decked out in matt black before being fitted with a glowing green grille and headlights.
Ford’s Australian developed Ranger secured lots of attention after driving down a ramp and through a shallow pool on the show stand, and the new Everest SUV was popular too.
The accessories section didn’t disappoint either, featuring some of the craziest parts known to man. The best was a chandelier designed to hang from the roof of a HiAce-style commuter van. Yes, a proper chandelier.
There were also a range of super-sized and super bright alloy wheels available in almost every colour under the sun. One design was bright green with oval spokes designed to look like flower petals. I’m not sure that one will catch on, but you never know.